The trend started about ten years ago, with the opening of the very first ruin pub, the Szimpla in Kazinczy street. Young people were craving spaces where they could avoid consumerism and just be themselves, so Szimpla was a huge success—and many more followed. The whole initiative is supported by local authorities who, recognising the life the pubs breathe back into decrepit streets, guarantee cheap rent if the applicant proposes a convincing project and refurbishment plan. There’s no guarantee that the ruin pub you went to last time will still be there next time round, but there’s never a shortage of exciting options.

Currently the most popular ones are:

Fogasház (Akácfa Utca 51): Dubbed a “cultural reception space”, fogasház functions as a contemporary art gallery and hosts plays, concerts, parties and film screenings.

Grandió (Nagy Diofa Utca 8): The inner courtyard of this pub, which is also a hostel, is densely covered with plants that separate the usual furnishings (tattered garden chairs and tables with a new coat of paint) are into small spaces that are popular for intimate drinking at night.

Instant (Nagymezö Utca 38): This gallery and café is located in two buildings that have been joined together, opening up all the former flats to form a veritable labyrinth. One room is turned upside down, and a school of fish passes above your head.

Szimpla (Szimpla Kert VII. ker. Kazinczy u. 14): The cultural programme here is as varied and unique as the atmosphere, ranging from open-air film screenings and art exhibitions to fairs for old bicycles and house plants that have been left there for watering and care.

This and more inspiring projects can be found in the print copy of A smart guide to Utopia or the ebook version.